The 21-day window to activate James Houston from IR was sert to expire this week, so the Detroit Lions had to activate him on Thursday or his season would be over. On Thursday, the move was indeed made to activate the second-year edge rusher.
Edge rusher Julian Okwara was waived in the corresponding move.
Houston's second-year breakout never got off the ground due to a fractured ankle while covering a kick in Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks. He had a stated goal of wanting to play in a regular season game before the playoffs, but he was not deemed ready as the Lions' tend to slow play recoveries from major injuries.
And Houston had a major injury. He had surgery to stabilize the break, with one plate, two tight ropes (braided cords which stabilize the fibula) and four screws put into his ankle.
Houston practiced in full every day last week leading up to the Wild Card game against the Rams, which made it a little surprising he wasn't activated then.
There is the chance Houston does not play on Sunday, and is instead among the Lions' inactives. But to activate him and not play him would make the decision to activate him look weird, as if they're somehow guaranteed to win and Houston will be able to contribute in the NFC Championship Game or the Super Bowl. It would be a huge surprise if he isn't in uniform.
James Houston will hopefully be bring a little juice to the Lions' pass rush
The Lions' pass rush has been better lately, but Aidan Hutchinson still accounts for most of the heat that's put on opposing quarterbacks.
Houston had eight sacks in seven games as a rookie last season, which fueled the breakout talk all offseason. So even if he plays limited snaps against Tampa Bay, which is certain to happen in a specialized pass rushing role akin to Bruce Irvin's role when he was a Lion, ideally he'll be able to bother Baker Mayfield when he is on the field.